It’s time for another installment of of our special series COVID-19 Update, bringing you the latest developments on the novel coronavirus outbreak that public health authorities here and across the country are working to mitigate.
Earlier today, Seattle & King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin issued a public health directive requiring everyone to wear face coverings indoors and outdoors when physical distancing is difficult.
Metro will require the use of masks by operators and riders at all times. (Sound Transit has not yet declared such a policy, but if they do, it will likely be posted here.) This directive will take effect on Monday, May 18th.
People who have been complaining about businesses violating Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, as a measured relaxation of the stay at home order is implemented, have had their names and contact info published on Facebook, which in turn has resulted in harassment and death threats against them.
One of these Facebook posts was created by the Washington Three Percenters, which is one of an array of far right groups that, per the Southern Poverty Law Center, “advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines.”
This happened in the midst of demonstrations of approximately 1,500 people in Olympia against Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, which is less than the 2,000 to 2,500 that demonstrated in Olympia last month.
On Wednesday, May 6th, ten churches from across the state of Oregon and twenty-one individuals, made up of pastors, staff and congregants, filed a lawsuit against Governor Kate Brown’s State of Emergency order, declaring that it “at least implicitly limits plaintiffs’ free exercise of religion,” which is protected by the First Amendment of the US constitution and Article 1 of the Oregon Constitution.
The suit was filed by the Pacific Justice Institute, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has declared is an anti-LGBT group that “…compared legalized gay marriage to Hitler and the Nazis’ ascent in Germany; endorsed so-called ‘reparative’ or sexual orientation conversion therapy; claimed marriage equality would lead to legal polygamy and incest; fought against protections for trans children and fabricated a story of harassment by a trans student; and said that LGBT History Month promotes gay pornography to children.”
The next day, on May 7th, Elkhorn Baptist Church in Salem filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against Governor Kate Brown’s stay at home order, declaring that it infringes on their religious freedom to congregate.
Said Salem-based attorney Ray D. Hacke, who filed the temporary restraining order Thursday: “If we’re risking our lives to go to church, if we survive, great… If we die, then we’re going to heaven. If we want to take that risk, then it’s on us.” (This ignores the possibility that church members may become asymptomatic and pass the novel coronavirus to non-participants in church services.)
The Oregon Health Authority on Saturday, May 9th, emphasized publicly an FDA guidance issued on May 7th, revoking authorization for more than sixty-five of the eighty known manufacturers of KN95 respirators, citing poor quality, and reminding medical professionals not use them in the performance of their duties. KN95 respirators are made exclusively in China, but are not required to be tested by NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), as N95 respirators must be to receive such a designation.
This is the present list of approved respirators by the FDA as of May 7th.
A nonprofit organization, Crush the Curve, has been offering free antibody tests to assess, test and trace for people who have had COVID-19 or are asymptomatic.
So far, Crush the Curve has been promoting the results of testing in eastern Idaho, where it has declared a low number of people that have had or do have the novel coronavirus.
The quality of many such tests is highly questionable, it doesn’t always catch early infections in progress, and interpreting the results can require subtlety at a time when the White House and other entities want such tests to be a quick means of providing evidence that most people can go back to work.
The tests used via the Crush the Curve campaign are available through the Virology Department at the University of Washington, which in turn were made by Abbott Labs. While they appear to have a reliably high accuracy rate, and while the FDA granted, on May 11th, an emergency use authorization for the test, some controversy exists regarding the availability of these tests in other areas, such as in the state of Washington.
Washington state has had 17,890 cases and 953 attributable deaths.
248,875 people have been tested.
Oregon has had 3,286 cases and 130 attributable deaths.
77,542 people have been tested.
Idaho has had 2,260 cases and 70 attributable deaths.
31,961 people have been tested.
British Columbia has had 2,353 cases and 130 attributable deaths.
111,498 people have been tested.